TaxPersonal TaxSisters face IHT bill after EC ruling

Sisters face IHT bill after EC ruling

Two elderly unmarried sisters have lost their appeal against a European Court of Human Rights ruling that they should pay inheritance tax when the first of them dies

the Burden sisters

the Burden sisters

The Court held, by 15 votes to two, that there had been no violation of
article 14 concerning prohibition of discrimination along with article 1 on
protection of property of the European Convention on Human Rights.

‘The absence of a legally binding agreement between the applicants renders
their relationship of co-habitation, despite its long duration, fundamentally
different to that of a married or civil partnership couple,’ the judgment
stated.

Joyce Burden, 89, and her sister Sybil, 82, of Marlborough, Wiltshire, have
lived together for their entire lives and cared for four relatives. They
inherited the house they currently share from their father, and have lived there
for more than 30 years.

The pair made wills that the first to die would leave their estate to the
surviving sister. However, under UK law, on the first death there would be an
inheritance tax of 40% of the value of the surviving sister’s share exceeding
the £312,000 threshold for the 2008/09 tax year.

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